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Post-occupancy chairs - click opera
February 2010
 
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Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 11:21 am
Post-occupancy chairs

I decided to do a little slideshow for my Post-Materialist slot in the Times this week -- basically, these are all the chairs I photographed this year, crammed into a short YouTube video with a somewhat rushed commentary.



Judging by the comments, while some found 5000 Years of Chairs in 5 Minutes "very interesting", others were mystified. "What’s the point?" demanded Steve, apparently some kind of academic, "If I received this presentation from a student, I would fail him/her." Jared's jab was more sly: "The anticipation of a conclusion or insightful comment kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time!"

I figured people wouldn't want a ton of editorializing in a little slideshow of chairs, but for the record here's the thinking behind the piece.

1. Things are just as valid and interesting when they're in use out in the world as they are when they're new and standing in a showroom, and possibly more so.

2. This is what Rem Koolhaas called (in a recent edition of Domus D'Autore) "post-occupancy design" -- the stuff that happens to design after it's left the designer's workshop (and architecture after it's left the studio) is the real test of its quality and character. Occupancy and use shouldn't see the designer and the architect melting away. They should stick around, take notes, and take photos. The processes of time and decay can be beautiful. The way people use stuff and adapt it can be instructive.

3. You don't have to buy stuff to be smitten with it -- public furniture that we just see on our travels (and maybe photograph) is worth writing about too. That's one of the things The Post-Materialist is all about.

4. There's also the idea that things come full circle: the slideshow takes us from paleolithic stone benches on the island of Orkney to modern concrete benches in the same place. There's a "before industrial design" and an "after industrial design", and they look remarkably similar. That's something I think Jan Lindenberg's Sweatshop 2.0 project was about -- coming up with chair design that deconstructs the distinction between amateur and professional, between the past and the present, between new and secondhand... and between shelves and chairs!

5. One word: recycle!

Finally, though, the slideshow is a little tribute to the dizzying diversity of forms out there, and about the kind of beauty -- or ugliness, or oddness -- that compels you to turn your camera on an inanimate object. Do I get to graduate from your course now, Steve, whatever the hell it is?

17CommentReply

qscrisp
qscrisp
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 11:01 am (UTC)
like stray dogs

http://houseofbeautyandculture.blogspot.com/2008/07/like-stray-dogs-i-just-cant-seem-to.html


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 11:53 am (UTC)

Coincidentally "One Thousand Twentieth Century Chairs" came up on my iPod Shuffle yesterday whilst I was out for a jog. Had forgotten what a romp that song was!

Miles


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 11:55 am (UTC)

Adding a romp to a jog could endanger your health, though, Miles! We have to be careful at our age!


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lazy_leoboiko
lazy_leoboiko
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)

Your list of five items is remarkably similar to the æsthetic approach of the Japanese tea ceremony. Occupancy and use, everyday things out in the world, a sensibility to decay and aging — all of this was discussed by tea masters a long ago.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)

Yes, yes, and yes!


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 12:15 pm (UTC)

This was a little more rushed than your Japanese book covers video, and so slightly less enjoyable, but still a very good thing. Don't let people discourage you from making them. They're just trying to fill out their day with meaningful activity by leaving critical commentary.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)

Ah yes, the Japanese book covers video, just in case anyone missed it.


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shadowshark
shadowshark
ShadowShark
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)

seconded--in case you're worried, I also think that ten minutes of allowing yourself to breathe would be much easier to sit through than five minutes of rushing... something along the lines of the "quiet noises are better than loud ones"/"movies where nothing happens are more interesting than action movies" ideas, only with pacing. In fact, I'd be curious to know why you prefer to rush, given your very anti-rush attitude in other areas, if you feel like saying. Not that I'm asking you to contemplate a jar of mayonnaise for a half hour... though if you did, I would certainly be keen to watch it.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)

I guess I felt that five New York minutes were about one Berlin hour!


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 12:33 pm (UTC)
smooth operator

i found your narrative voice smooth and seductive, which proved reassuring when forced to contemplate some of those cruel but all too usual seating opportunities available on this doomed planet...

w13


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cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)

I like the clicking sound when you change slides/pictures. Reminiscent of the old carousel but less noisy. Is it powerpoint? A mousey click?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)

I put it together very painstakingly from sound samples.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC)
youtube at 5:07

I really enjoyed your personal presentation of chairs. Um, the massage chair you mention at 5:07, I seem to recall being originally sold as a task chair. Does anyone remember the furniture store called Danica at Fisherman's Village in San Pedro, California, from the 1980's? They had a chair called Balans Variable. I think it was this chair. It was a task chair that helped one maintain correct posture, and distributed the pressure among one's seat and knees. That's insanely great! (before its time) Good design.
Hmm. I just googled. The design is by Peter Opsvik.

David


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Jul. 19th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
Re: youtube at 5:07

Yes, my girlfriend actually told me that after I'd made the presentation. I'm sure you could use it for massage, though!


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jul. 20th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
septh

hey stephano


ReplyThread Parent

(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jul. 20th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)

Is Meta-Filter, like, a big site? I'm not feigning ignorance, I really don't know!


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snert
snert
thorn
Mon, Jul. 21st, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
attn americans


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